As if construction work and manual labor are not hard enough, one has to occasionally fight through a legal battle too, if they want to get paid. In certain situations, a builder or subcontractor will not get compensated for their work and will have to take legal actions to make the customer or company pay their share. And in some countries, such as Canada, you have the possibility of filing a builder’s liens.
If there is no other way – the contractor doesn’t want to negotiate, the customer is avoiding your calls, etc – the easiest way is not to be aggressive or to continue wasting your time on them but file the appropriate papers and stop whatever further funding they were meant to have until they pay you off. Although the most elegant solution available it still requires some know-how and careful observation.
When and Where to File?
The business may be booming, with construction sites and repairs being done all over the place, but that is no reason to delay getting paid for the job you did. Deadlines vary from state to state, so you should be aware of what situation applies to you. Take note that you will have to respect deadlines for the state you are working in, not the state where your business is registered.
The details differ depending on the type of work, but 45 days after you’ve finished your work or have terminated or otherwise canceled the job in question is the common deadline you are looking at. Liens should be filed with an appropriate attorney’s office, one that specializes in these cases at least in your state.
In Ontario, this is known as an Ontario construction lien, while in a few others it goes by the same of mechanic liens, but don’t be confused – it’s the same thing.
A Lawyer on Speed Dial
If your main profession is in construction and other related engineering fields you will probably have plenty of such cases. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to file a lien every time, but being prepared to do it at a moment’s notice is a big plus.
What you want is to get acquainted with a lawyer beforehand and be up to date with what the practice is in that certain area of work. You can read more here about how it looks like to work with professionals on the matter. If you are not familiar with the process, filing for the first time, whether because you are in a new area or it just happens to be your first time that you need to ask for a lien, having a lawyer’s office in your contact list to ask for help is a must.
What to Expect
Once filed, the lien goes through a lengthy and complicated process, where usually a team of legal experts goes back and forth with it, inspectors have to see the project in question, you will have to present a previous contract, and so forth. One way of knowing what is going on is to be educated in the process, for which there are seminars organized ever so often, aimed specifically at people who work in construction or other fields of building and repair.
In this case, you are much better prepared to understand what is going on, not to miss any deadlines, and have the needed paperwork in order. The alternative is, of course, to stay in touch with a reliable lawyer who will keep you updated on the matter. Even if you have a basic understanding of how this process goes, it is still filled with a ridiculous amount of legal terminology and official forms that need to be meticulously followed through.
All of this may seem like a serious hassle if you’ve never been to court or had to deal with the government, but it is a standard procedure and one of the main reasons why lawyers are hired for just about any official work in this regard.
“Let justice be done, though the world perish”. Ok, we do not really intend the world, or anyone for that matter, to perish – but if you’ve been held back your fair share, and see that the whole operation is going forward without keeping you in mind, you must put the whole thing to halt and demand your pay. Otherwise, you will be trampled over not only by those customers or contractors but many others in the future too, once they see you don’t react. So chin up and fight for your rights!